MATT GRIEVESON kicked a late drop-goal to secure unbeaten Ivybridge a 27-24 win over Newbury Blues at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
Ivybridge had led 7-3 at half-time thanks to a Adam Northcott converted try and they then went 14-3 up after the interval with a further converted try from winger Damon Akerman.
But Newbury, who had beaten Exmouth the previous week, closed the gap to four points before Grieveson kicked a penalty to edge his side 17-10 ahead.
The Blues levelled the match with a converted try but Tom Scoles put the hosts back in front when he crossed the whitewash.
Yet back came Newbury who levelled again on 78 minutes only for Grieveson to break their hearts with time nearly up.
It was the second week running Ivybridge had dug deep to win a tight game after beating Maidenhead 36-33 away.
“To be fair, we have been really good at the end of games even when it has been tight so I had confidence,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott. “We had penalty advantage so Matt went for the drop-goal and slotted it.
“It was another good win for us.
“The Exmouth game was tight, Maidenhead was tight and so was this one, but we have shown we are mentally tough to get through those games and come out with some sort of result.”
He added: “We defended really well first half, but second half they just kind of got a bit of ascendency and started getting over the gain-line in attack and stopping us a bit. They got some momentum and played well second half, but we managed to hang on and get enough territory at the end of the game and put enough pressure on to pull through.
“I thought we did really well as they are a good side, especially pack wise. They had a good set-piece which troubled us. I think they will pick up plenty of result this season.”
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services maintained their 100 per cent record in South West One with a 40-24 home win over Bridgwater & Albion, who had started the day in second place.
Service, who are the only team to have won all their games so far in the division, had secured the bonus point by half-time as they led 26-5.
But just like against Newton Abbot on the opening day, Devonport dropped their pace in the second period and Bridgwater, coach by former Plymouth Albion flanker Wayne Sprangle, came back and went home with a try scoring bonus point.
“We made it a bit hard work for ourselves in the second half,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach.
“The first half we were dominant but because we got that bonus point try early again they came back into it.”
Services took the lead in the first couple of minutes when second-row Andy Pond went over in the corner after some good phases from a scrum.
He got a second midway through the half when Devonport pushed Bridgwater off a scrum and eventually the ball came to Pond, who went over under the posts. Richard West added that conversion to put his side 12-0 up.
Bridgwater then had some pressure and the hosts had Kyle Browne sin-binned for a professional foul and the visitors scored through Richard Bright.
But not long later Services got their third try. Pond thought he had scored to get his hat-trick but the referee had already decided to award a penalty try before he crossed the whitewash. The official also yellow carded Albion’s Dan Kemmish, who was playing his 400th game.
Just before half-time Devonport got the bonus point try when hooker Sam Bennett continued his impressive try-scoring form by going over from a catch-and-drive move. West converted to give Services a 26-5 half-time lead.
Bridgwater came out all guns blazing second half and hooker Sean Mahoney brushed off a host of tacklers to scored a great try and close the gap to 26-12.
But Devonport responded. Liam Jarvis charged down an attempted kick following a scrum in front of Albion’s posts and the ball fell kindly for West to score. He also added the conversion to make it 33-12.
Bridgwater’s replacement prop Jordie Buller scored from a tap penalty but Corey Jamieson replied for Services after a good chip kick by West, who added the conversion.
But the final word went to the visitors with former Cornish Pirates player Bright going over for their bonus point score.
Services’ win did come at a cost with Sam Bennett and Tom Goodman both picking up injuries.
In Western Counties West, Saltash claimed their first win of the season in style by beating Tiverton 40-14 at Moorlands Lane on Saturday.
It looked like it was going to be a tight affair early on, but two quick tries before half-time gave Saltash a 22-7 half-time lead and they never looked back.
Scrum-half Kieron Down had put the hosts ahead with a penalty on 10 minutes.
They extended their lead on 30 minutes when fly-half Todd Crofts pounced to score after Tiverton had spilled ball. Down converted to put the Ashes 10-0 ahead.
Tiverton, coached by former Launceston and Exmouth boss Jon Hill, responded almost immediately with a converted try through winger Alex Pike.
But quick tries by winger Will Morton and centre Greg Eatwell, both converted by Down, put Saltash on the front foot before the break.
And the Ashes did not let up after the interval with Morton adding a second try to put his side 29-7 ahead.
Tiverton got a try from close range to close the gap slightly, but two Down penalties put the hosts 35-14 in front.
And Saltash finished on a high with a try from prop Ryan Simmons. The bonus-point win has moved the Ashes off the foot of the table and will have given them massive confidence.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks have moved to the top of the table after beating Topsham 22-17 at Horsham Fields on Saturday.
It was their fifth consecutive win of the season, but they made hard work of it.
They had been 22-0 up at the interval with Kieran Jamieson scoring a hat-trick of tries to go with one from fellow winger Joe Brearley and a conversion from Al Murray.
But, they did not get going second half and Topsham came back and snatched a bonus point thanks to two tries from Luke Edwardson and one from Will House. Exeter Chiefs coach Ricky Pellow also kicked a conversion.
“We got all five points which is good, but we nearly threw it away,” said Oaks head coach Aiden Taylor. “We were 22-0 up at half-time, but second half we just took our foot of the gas and let them back into it.
“At 22-0 up we had a two against one and we have gone to play the pass but they have intercepted it on their own 22 and run the length and scored. That pretty much changed the game straight after half-time.”
He added: “The first half was the best I have seen us play this season. We tore them to shreds but the second half we thought the game was done and let off. That was frustrating as that is the one thing we spoke about at half-time. We said do not let up and keep going, but they got back into it and put us under pressure.”
Tavistock find themselves at the foot of the Cornwall/Devon League and the only team without a win after they lost 15-13 away at South Molton.
Both teams went into the game without a win to their name, but it was South Molton who took the four points after coming back from a 8-7 half-time deficit.
A try by Glenn Fuller and a penalty by Jack Easton had put Tavistock ahead in the opening 40 minutes with South Molton’s first half points came from a Chris Parkes try, which Ben Smart converted.
But in the second period Tavistock could only manage one try and conversion from Easton, while South Molton’s Dan Smith caught the visitors out with a quick tap penalty and Smart added the rest of their points.
Despite the narrow defeat, Tavistock, who have picked up two losing bonus points in the last two weeks, remain positive.
“We are in high spirits after a much improved performance,” said player-coach Hammy Kerswill.
Liskeard-Looe got their first win of the season with an impressive 43-14 home success over Exeter Athletic.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens maintained their unbeaten start to the season in Devon One by overcoming big rivals Old Techs 24-5 at the Parkway on Saturday.
However, they had to work hard for the bonus point win against a Techs side that had to play nearly 45 minutes with 14 men after picking up a yellow card at the end of the first half and then having front-row Rudi Baker sent off for dissent in the 47th minute after it appeared he had been punched.
The way the game ended on Saturday has certainly added extra spice to next week’s Devon Junior Cup meeting between the same sides at Weston Mill.
Techs, who have re-signed Billy Evans after a short spell at Plymouth Argaum, will certainly feel they have something to prove next Saturday, while Sarries will also been keen to be more clinical after finding it hard to break down their rivals.
Sarries dominated the first 35 minutes but Techs, who were without key centre Matt Simmonds, defended really well.
It looked like Techs could be in for a long afternoon when Saracens hooker Adam Corbett was driven over from an impressive catch-and-drive move after just eight minutes. Lewis Swatton converted that try, but Sarries could not add to that until the 34th minute when Dan Best added a second converted try.
Yet Techs finished the half strongly, despite picking up a yellow card for a high tackle, and started the second period in the same way.
But it went wrong for them as they were attacking in the 47th minute of the match. There were strong appeals from the crowd and Techs players that Baker had been punched in the face, but the referee did not give anything. When play stopped Baker must have said something to the official who initially showed him a yellow card before then pulling out a red.
Despite having a man advantage, Saracens still found it hard to break Techs down. They finally got a third try on 63 minutes through scrum-half Rikki Brandham.
The visitors went looking for another score that could give them a bonus point but with two minutes to go they had a pass intercepted and Sini Manu ran 70 metres to secure Sarries the bonus point try.
Techs did finish strongly and looked certain to score a try but somehow blew it trying to off-load on the try line when they didn’t need to.
Afterwards Tamar Saracens coach Pete Lethbridge said: “We didn’t play how we wanted to play. I would say our backs were not quite on the ball. The forwards performed well in a scrappy game as usual against Techs.
“They caused us a lot of problems but defensive wise I thought we were pretty outstanding, but we have a lot to work on before we play them against next week.”
He added: “It was pleasing to get that bonus point try – I think we deserved it to be fair as we were the better side for most of the game.
“We did have sticky patches, but we were always going to get that against Techs. We definitely got a good work-out.”
OPMs got back to winning ways after their defeat to Tamar Saracens last week when they beat Torrington 36-15 on Saturday.
Martin Skelly led the way for them with a hat-trick of tries, with Ben Neville and youngster Fred Smale also crossing. Sammie Matts kicked the rest of their points, with flanker Matthew Morgan claiming the man of the match award.
“It was a brilliant win,” said head coach Rick Orkney. “They were dangerous but we played really well, with and without the ball.”
Plymouth Argaum have had five points deducted from their points tally after surprisingly failing to travel to leaders Withycombe on Saturday.
Argaum were unbeaten, with a win and two draws to their name, but were unable to get a team to make the trip to the Exmouth-based club.
In Devon Merit Table Division Two South & West, Plympton Victoria beat a DHSOB side 17-10 at their new Underwood home.
DHSOB did not have a full team to start with and so Plym Vic lent them some to make it 15-a-side as they held their VPs day and welcomed Plymouth’s deputy Lord Mayor, councillor Terri Beer, to their match. They were also awarded their RFU club accreditation.
Sam Wilmington scored two tries and a conversion for them, with Zac Hoole also going over.
“It was a good game,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “I think maybe we could have controlled it better and we did give away some silly penalties, but overall it was a great game of rugby played in the right manner.”
Elsewhere in the league, St Columba & Torpoint lost 61-21 to a strong Kingsbridge side, while Plymstock Albion Oaks II beat Brixham III 34-11 and Saltash II overcame last year’s champions Salcombe 36-33.